President’s message – October 2015

The end of September marked the transfer of the Valles Caldera from management by a trust to management by the National Park Service. It also marked the end of the Land and Water Conservation Fund as Congress failed to reauthorize it. Thus fund made purchase of the Valles Caldera possible. In its 50 year existence it provided funding for a wide array of projects including purchase of public access to trout fishing waters.
October is the month you can find out where the big browns are because they will be spawning. If you find a redd the trout will either be spawning on it or will be near it. You may be able to see those big ones that you suspected were in a section of stream and may even be able to catch one. However, they are very wary when spawning and will run for cover if they are disturbed.

October is also the month that we start having our monthly general meetings. As in past years the meetings will be held on the second Tuesdays of the month at Sandia Prep and will start at 7:00 pm. We have lots of good programs planned and lots of door prizes so plan on attending.

In my last epistle I wrote about the Valles Caldera and how it came to be what it is today. However I only wrote about half of the story. The rest of the story is as follows: After several years of negotiation between the Dunigan family, congress, and the Forest Service the family said they would accept the $101,000 million that the family had had the property appraised for. However, the General accounting Office had the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conduct an appraisal of the Ranch. This appraisal priced the Ranch at about half as much from what the family had it appraised for. The difference between the two appraisals was that the family’s appraisal considered private development of the property and the Service’s appraisal only considered existing uses, primarily grazing and elk hunting. This situation created an impasse that could have put an end to negotiations.<
However, the Dunigan boys met with New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici who had come up with the idea of having purchase of the Ranch, at the $101,000 million cost, contingent upon it being operated similar to the Presido Trust in California. On July 12, 2000, the House of Representatives passed by 377 to 45 margin The Valles Caldera Preservation Act that put the Ranch in public ownership and under the management of a nine member Board of Trusties appointed by the President of the United States.

Tight Lines,
Jerry Burton, President NMT

Valles Caldera Fishing Clinics – Adults and Youth

Francis Peter, Youth Director
From the April 2014 newsletter

 

368Volunteers from New Mexico Trout conduct fly fishing clinics for youths (ages 8-16) and adults, allowing up to 20 participants the opportunity to fish the rivers on the Preserve. Participants spend a half day learning about equipment, tackle, knots, stream insect sampling and identification. Participants will have time to practice their casting in the morning and then head for the stream in the afternoon. Bring a lunch to enjoy along the stream and be prepared for weather. This activity is extremely popular, so sign up early. The Clinic schedule for 2014 is as follows:

June 7   Youth                   June 8     Adult
July 19   Youth                  July 20     Adult
Aug 16   Youth                  Aug 17     Adult

Please inform your friends and neighbors of these dates. The clinics will be held from 8:30am to 5:30pm each day. Interested parties can get more information and sign up at http://www.vallescaldera.gov/comevisit/special/

Anyone interested in volunteering to help with these clinics should contact Francis Peter (fepeter@outlook.com or 980-3444) and provide your name, email address, and phone number. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time on the Valles Caldera, a magical place.

Conservation Update

Ron Loehman, Conservation Chair
From the April 2014 newsletter

Each season New Mexico Trout members volunteer for work on conservation projects in support of the US Forest Service and other state and federal resource management agencies. Many of the projects are on streams in the Jemez Mountains and most are on weekends.Our first project was a great success, cleaning up trash along the Rio Guadalupe on 12 April. Sixteen hardy souls tromped through the underbrush retrieving 39 large bags of trash – enough to fill a full size pickup bed and then some! Afterwards, they enjoyed a streamside lunch and social time, and a beautiful spring day in the Jemez.
385Our other upcoming projects currently scheduled are listed below. More will be added as the different agencies firm up their plans for the 2014 season.The next event on 31 May will be in conjunction with the annual NMT Barbeque. Join us for this project and a fine meal afterwards!

May 31           Cattle fencing and riparian restoration on the middle Rio Cebolla
July 12           Riparian restoration on the middle Rio Cebolla
August 8-10   Restoration on Comanche Creek, Carson NF

388
Remember, three volunteers are randomly chosen each year at the Conclave to win a cash award! This year, Michael Maes, Mike Stallard, and James Stone were awarded $100 for their support to conservation programs. The more you volunteer, the better your chances to win! Join us for the fun.

Volunteers Sought for Valles Caldera Study

Dave Menicucci
From April 2014 newsletter

387
A project is ongoing at the Valles Caldera to understand trout movements following wildfires.  Last year we extracted, tagged and relocated 72 trout on the East Fork and 85 on the Rio San Antonio.  This year we will be electroshocking both the extraction and relocation areas to determine whether the trout have remained in the relocation areas or migrated back to the extraction areas.  There are two parts to this effort, both requiring volunteers.

Part 1, Electroshocking

I am seeking a minimum of 10 volunteers on each of two days.  Among the volunteers I need one person with some scientific training to oversee the data collection and one who is sufficiently hardy to run the electroshocker, which mounts on a person’s back and weighs about 35 lbs.  Refreshments will be provided and the work will consume a whole day starting around 830am at the visitor center and returning at around 5pm.

At present, I am tentatively planning for shocking on the Rio San Antonio on May 11and on the East Fork on June 14.  But those exact dates may change depending on the availability of equipment and personnel. Francis Peter is assisting with the equipment coordination.

Part 2: Intense fishing
I am seeking six experienced people to intensely fish the areas between and around the extraction and reintroduction areas.  Here is how this will work:

  1. I will identify contiguous 1.5 kilometer (about 0.9 mile) stretches of each stream that encompass the areas where we tagged trout and where we reintroduced them.  I will provide very specific GPS locations for the start and end points of each stretch to be fished.
  2. Each volunteer will be assigned to intensely fish a stretch.  For every tagged trout that is snagged in that stretch, the fisher will measure its length and note the exact location where it was taken; then return the fish to the stream.  Each fisher will need a GPS and measuring tape to find the appropriate stretch and to identify the locations of takes.
  3. Each volunteer will fish the stretch for free and will be able to select a convenient time to fish the assigned stretch (although I would like to have all of the stretches fished within about a one-month window).

Those who have already volunteered for the intense fishing need not do so again.

This is an opportunity for volunteers to participate in a unique science experiment and experience beautiful scenery. Interested persons should contact Dave Menicucci, principal investigator, at dmenicucci1@comcast.net or 505-235-8501.

Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Stocked in Rio Grande

From the April 2014 Newsletter

344The New Mexico Game and Fish Department stocked almost 10,000 young Rio Grand cutthroat trout into the into the Rio Grande Gorge north of Taos river as part of a long-range plan to spur interest in the state fish and restore it in other streams and creeks. Like other native fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat has disappeared from much of its historic range in New Mexico and Colorado.

The department began restocking the fish in the Rio Grande in 2008. Today, people can fish for cutthroat that have grown to adulthood in the gorge and are now as large as 12 inches.

The fish is a candidate for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The trout released recently were raised at Seven Springs Hatchery. To keep the cutthroat’s genetic strain pure, those are the only species raised there.

2014 Conservation Program

Ron Loehman, Conservation Chair
From March 2014 newsletter

371Each season New Mexico Trout members volunteer for work on conservation projects in support of the US Forest Service and other state and federal resource management agencies. Many of the projects are on streams in the Jemez Mountains and most are on weekends. The projects currently scheduled are listed below. More will be added as the different agencies firm up their plans for the 2014 season.

April 12, Cleanup of the Rio Guadalupe corridor
May 31, Cattle fencing and riparian restoration on the middle Rio Cebolla
July 12, Riparian restoration on the middle Rio Cebolla
August 8-10, Restoration on Comanche Creek, Carson NF

For more information, contact Ron Loehman.

Valles Caldera Fishing Clinics – Adults and Youth

By Francis Peter, Youth Director
From March 2014 newsletter

Volunteers from New Mexico Trout conduct fly fishing clinics for youths (ages 8-16) and adults, allowing up to 20 participants the opportunity to fish the rivers on the Preserve. Participants spend a half day learning about equipment, tackle, knots, stream insect sampling and identification. Participants will have time to practice their casting in the morning and then head for the stream in the afternoon. Bring a lunch to enjoy along the stream and be prepared for weather. This activity is extremely popular, so sign up early. The Clinic schedule for 2014 is as follows:

June 7, Youth
June 8, Adult
July 19, Youth
July 20, Adult
August 16, Youth
August 17, Adult

Please inform your friends and neighbors of these dates. The clinics will be held from 8:30am to 5:30pm each day. Interested parties can get more information and sign up at http://www.vallescaldera.gov/comevisit/special/

Anyone interested in volunteering to help with these clinics should contact Francis Peter and provide your name, email address, and phone number. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time on the Valles Caldera, a magical place.

Beaver Restoration Plan Could Help Climate Adaptation

Bryan Bird, Wild Places Program Director, WildEarth Guardians
Photos by Andrew Nguyen
From March 2014 newsletter

365Our climate hero, the American beaver, will be getting its own management plan in New Mexico after the state senate passed a memorial recognizing the busy rodent’s value to water supplies and ecosystems-especially in times of drought. The beaver memorial acknowledges that the dams, ponds and associated wetlands created by beaver are known to increase groundwater percolation, which raises local groundwater tables and increases water storage.  The memorial also recognizes the critical role that ecosystem restoration could play in protecting and recovering many imperiled species.

364WildEarth Guardians worked with state lawmakers to draft the memorial and shepherd it through the state legislature. The memorial directs the state wildlife agency and other relevant agencies to report back to the legislature by September 1st on an approach for how best to develop the beaver management plan.

Only Oregon and Utah have statewide beaver management plans, both of which recognize the climate adaptation benefits beaver can offer. A WildEarth Guardians statewide assessment found beaver populations are dangerously low on public lands in New Mexico. Over 80% of streams on public lands could support the dam-building ecosystem engineer. And yet recent surveys have found few active beaver in streams and rivers on national forests in the state.

366Now the hard work begins of coordinating a multi-agency and stakeholder process to develop the management plan that benefits beaver and New Mexico’s headwaters. WildEarth Guardians will continue to lead the reestablishment of functional beaver populations on public lands across the state, and you can learn more at http://www.wildearthguardians.org

This is a big victory for beaver and ecosystems in the West and we hope you will join us and support this critical ecosystem restoration and climate adaptation work.